Wednesday December 27, 2006 12:54 PM


Inside the Dancers Studio


Rockets Power Dancer Leandra visits with Rockets.com

Name: Leandra
Age: 24
Hometown: Deer Park, Tex.
Occupation: Personal Trainer
Alma Mater: University of Houston-Clear Lake
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Fitness and Human Performance
Seasons as RPD: Third

Rockets.com: Why did you want to become a Rockets Power Dancer?
Leandra: I've been dancing since I was three years old. I decided to pursue cheerleading in high school and college instead of dancing because it was just something that I really wanted to do at the time. After I cheered two years at San Jacinto College, I realized that my passion for dancing was still there. I had a dance teacher who was a former Rockets dancer in the championship days and she was always my motivation for wanting to dance in the NBA. Now that I'm finally here, I have the best of both worlds because I get to cheer and dance.

Rockets.com: What's the hard part about being a veteran?
Leandra: The hardest part about being a veteran is that you have to be "on" all the time. Making the team one time isn't the hard part, its trying to come back every year, earn a spot on the team, and prove to everyone why you should be a veteran. I looked up to the vets on the team when I was a rookie and I knew that if I had the opportunity to make it back on the team, I would want to have that same positive influence on the new girls coming in.

Rockets:com: What has been your favorite moment, so far, as a Rockets Power Dancer?
Leandra: Being a Power Dancer has brought so many opportunities my way. Stepping out on the court for the first time was definitely a highlight, but I have to say that I get that same feeling every time during player introductions. It reminds me why I love this so much. Its the biggest adrenaline rush you could ever have.

Rockets.com: What was been your favorite dance routine through the first two months of the season?
Leandra: So far, I have to say that my favorite dance routine was to Nasty by Janet Jackson. It was the first time I had ever done a chair routine ... and we did it in boots! It was just something different that we haven't done in a while and it was a chance for the audience to see that we can do a variety of different dance styles. It was a little scary at first because we were at the mercy of the chair underneath us, but I think we pulled it off.

Rockets.com: What is it like being a dunking dancer?
Leandra: I am a dunking dancer this year and I always look forward to the games where we get to dunk. I dunked last year, but was never quite comfortable with the idea of running full speed at a stationary object. I couldn't find the right starting point to start my run, so I never knew if I would land on the right foot on the trampoline, or if the ball would even make it in the hoop. This year, I definitely feel more confident and have so far made every dunk. So look out, I might have a few surprises in store for you.

Rockets.com: What is one misconception about being a Rockets Power Dancer?
Leandra: People have a lot of different misconceptions about us, but I think the biggest one is that all we do is dance. We are all required to work full-time or be full-time students. People are fairly surprised when they find out how well-educated and goal-oriented all of us are. Being a power dancer is much harder than people realize because of our work or school schedules, practices, games, and appearances.

Rockets.com: Besides being a RPD, what do you do for a living?
Leandra: Currently, I am a personal trainer for a private gym. I've been doing this ever since I graduated from college. Its been a great job for me because it allows me to be flexible and participate in as many Rockets activities, games and appearances as possible.

Rockets.com: Are people surprised at the gym that you're a RPD?
Leandra: I generally don't tell a lot of people what I do right away because they tend to start judging you early on. I like people to know me for me as opposed to just being dancer. Those who do know are always excited about it and it's always the topic of some conversation.

Rockets.com: Do you ever get recognized in public as an RPD?
Leandra: I have been recognized at a gas station before. It was really random because I wasn't wearing anything with a Rockets logo and I had nothing in my possession that would let people know I was a Power Dancer. I don't think most people would recognize me outside of my uniform because on a typical day, my hair is pulled up out of my face and I don't wear much makeup.

Rockets.com: What is your typical day like during the season?
Leandra: I have a pretty easy schedule this season. Right now, I am transitioning into teaching. I've recently tested out of a couple of subject areas and I am hoping to begin teaching in the upcoming semester. I am a personal trainer right now, so I have a lot of time in between sessions. Every day is a different day for me, so I can't really say when I get up in the morning. It just depends on who I work with on that particular day. I also try to fit in some form of exercise whether it be running bleachers or running at the track for at least 30 minutes. Then, it's off to practice. Practice for us begins at 6:30 p.m., so I try to head to the arena around 5:45 p.m. to avoid traffic. Once we are done at 9:30 p.m., I go home, shower, and get ready for the next day. On game days, we have to be at the arena at 4 p.m. and we generally aren't out of there until about 10 p.m. or so.

Rockets.com: What do you do in your free time, if you have any?
Leandra: Most of my free time is on the weekends like most people. I love to shop, hang out with friends and family, and just take care of anything I didn't get a chance to do during the busy week. Since I was young, I've always had a busy schedule and I like it that way. I can't imagine it being any other way. Rockets appearances are work, but I sign up for as many of them as I'm available for because it's fun. I can't get enough of it.

Rockets.com: Do you have a favorite activity?
Leandra: I'm a fairly active person. I always have been. I would have to say dancing is my favorite activity. I'm passionate about it and hope to do it for as long as possible. I can't imagine my life without it.

Rockets.com: What is your favorite sports team?
Leandra: I really got into basketball during my first two years of college when I cheered for San Jac. From that point on, I began watching the Rockets whenever I could. I love the fact that the game is so fast-paced and that you just never know what to expect. It's so exciting and I sometimes surprise myself at how much I get into the games, especially when we have the best seats in the house.

Rockets.com: What is the greatest movie ever?
Leandra: I just saw Memoirs of a Geisha not too long ago and loved it. My Dad was actually in the Navy and stationed in Japan for two years. He brought back a Geisha doll that is stored in a glass case and has to be taken care of on a regular basis. I never really understood what it was and thought it was just a doll from Japan. After watching the movie, I was able to understand a little more about the culture and the significance of a Geisha in Japan. Sometimes, I find myself watching it over and over because I learn something new every time.

Rockets.com: How about the best restaurant?
Leandra: When I find something I really like, I tend to stick with the same thing. I love the Cheesecake Factory and find myself there every time I'm shopping at the Galleria.

Rocket.com: Do you have an interesting fact about yourself that few people know?
Leandra: Somewhere along the line, I'm related to ABC Primetime anchor John Quinones from New York. I'm actually in the process of contacting him since we've never met and it would be great to get a chance to meet other people in my family.

Rockets.com: If you could have dinner with anyone on the planet, who would it be and why?
Leandra: I think dinner with any celebrity would be fun, but I wish I could wind back the hands of time to have dinner with three of my grandparents. They passed away when I was younger and wish I could have had the opportunity to really get to know them.

Rockets.com: Where do you want to travel and why?
Leandra: I've been so blessed to have the opportunity to travel to China and get to see the Great Wall. It was a place I never imagined I would get to see and something I will never forget. I also was able to travel to Bosnia, Kosovo, and the U.K. for a two-week military tour to perform alongside Clutch and the Launch Crew for U.S. troops. Since then, I've had so many places that I would like to visit such as Paris, the Philippines, and anywhere exotic and tropical like the Virgin Islands, Maldives, or Fiji.

Rockets.com: What do you expect to be doing 10 years from now?
Leandra: I'm not really sure what I will be doing 10 years from now career wise. I think teaching will be a great field for me and I love working with children, so hopefully it will all work out. I would love to be happily married and have a family, as well. Some traveling here and there would be nice, too.